Being a Lay Member of the Advisory Committee for South Yorkshire has been a fascinating insight into the justice system, an opportunity to meet some great people and a chance to contribute to public service in our region (writes Paul Cardwell).
The committee is made up of lay members, and serving magistrates. You do not need to be legally qualified to join... just able to demonstrate the qualities required for the role. The term of office is usually nine years.
I joined the Advisory Committee ten years ago and have seen many changes in how the justice system works. But the principle underlying it all remains the same - criminal and other cases are dealt with by magistrates drawn from all sections of the community.
The Recruitment Advisory Committee has two main roles: First, if there is a need for new magistrates, we start a recruitment campaign - a long process with strict rules.
Interview panels are made up of lay and magistrate members. This, for me, was the most interesting part of the role. It was great to see many people from all walks of life want to give up their time for the public good. Interviewing for the magistracy is not like a ‘normal’ job interview. The important thing is meeting the criteria of what it takes to be a magistrate.
Second, we meet two to three times a year and discuss any consultations or circulars from the Judicial Office that will affect the workings of the committee. The role of a lay member is to contribute outside expertise.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a lay member of the Advisory Committee. I learned how the courts work, about changes as a result of policies, and how to feed into those processes. I felt I could contribute, as well as developing my skills. I met interesting people, and it was a pleasure to work with the dedicated court service staff.
It would be wrong to fail to mention that Doncaster Magistrates’ Court café does a fantastic quiche!
The South Yorkshire and Humber Recruitment Committee is seeking lay members. If interested please use the link below for details. The campaign closes on 31.05.19.